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10 Quick and Easy Proofreading Ideas to Improve, Revise and Polish Your Writing.

Updated on June 8, 2013
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Our current way of written communication depends on our ability to be quick and efficient through instant messages and text writing. Words written for instant messages, phone texts, on a forum, or impersonal e-mail seem to have relax the writing rules. However, when writing a paper for school, a publication, or information to be read on the Internet, it is important that basic writing rules are upheld so your information is read coherently and you are taken seriously.

Below are ten easy proof reading ideas to improve and polish your writing.

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The Absolute Basics

Look at your writing as a whole picture. At first glance notice if any of the following occur and make corrections.

  • Take out all instant message abbreviations, IMO
  • Do not capitalize a WHOLE word or A WHOLE SENTENCE
  • Make sure you have paragraphs. Reading a large block of text is difficult to track with your eye and gather important information.

Look more closely into each paragraph

  • Make sure every sentence begins with a capital letter
  • Make sure every proper name, town, person, begins with a capital letter
  • Make sure every sentence ends with a punctuation
  • Choose only one punctuation (rarely would a sentence have more than one punctuation)
  • Make sure all punctuation marks are next to the last letter of the last word in the sentence. Punctuation marks do not 'float' in between sentences
  • After the punctuation marks there should be one space and begin the next letter
  • Be consistent with your spacing

Use Free Tools to Aid in your Writing

  • Make sure to run your writing through spell check
  • Make sure to run your writing through grammar check

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Words To Take Out

 
 
 
Just
"I just thought you would like wine with your dinner."
Taking out the word 'just' makes the sentence stronger.
Really
" I don't really want to spend any more time on this."
Using the word 'really' can make it seem like you are unsure of your intentions or patronising the other person.
Quite
" I would quite like you to do ten jumping jacks."
Can make the sentence unclear.
Perhaps
"Perhaps I can make it for lunch today."
Makes your writing sound uncertain. The intention is unclear.
That
"This is the room that I painted."
You can often cut this word out and not lose the meaning of your sentence.
Cutting out unnecessary words makes your writing stronger and clearer. Most often it is helpful to cut words out of writing rather than add words.
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Say it Loud and Proud

Read your work out loud. This will activate your whole brain and you will 'hear' your writing. What does not make sense will be caught from the ears if the eyes do not.

When you read your writing out loud also pay attention to the rhythm. You want your readers to engage in something that is not boring or has a monotone of long sentence after long sentence. Alternate the length of sentences. Break up some of those longer sentences and join some of the smaller sentences together to give the writing better rhythm and interest.

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Punctuate to Accentuate

 
 
 
period .
Use a period at the end of a sentence that makes a statement. There is no space between the last letter and the period.
"Sentences and words that bring ideas together is what hub pages is all about. I like writing on hub pages."
Question Mark ?
Use question mark at the end of a question.
“What do you like to read on hub pages? I like to read about a variety of topics, and I am always pleased to find new and interesting hubs.”
Exclamation Point !
Use exclamation point at the end of a sentence to indicate a strong emotion.
"I need to read hub pages!"
Chose only one punctuation. Rarely, would a sentance have more than one punctuation. After the punctuation you will type one space and start the next word for the next sentence with a capital letter.
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More Punctuation To Consider

 
 
 
Comma ,
Use a comma to set off an interruption in the main thought of a sentence, after each item in a series that list at least 3 things, before direct quote using quotation marks and when separating two adjectives.
"Oh, coming to hub pages gives me an oppertunity to learn, read and write."
Dash -
A dash is a strong comma, only should be used to add extra emphases to important information.
"Reading hub pages will increase your knowledge, your relationships - and decrease feelings of isolation."
Colon :
Is used in a sentence when you are going to list information. The beginning of the sentence before the colon is placed needs to sound like a complete sentence.
"I read about many topics at hub pages including: poetry, recipes, relationships, inspirational writings, and how to calm my dog."
Semicolon ;
Use a semicolon to join two independent clauses.
"Julie first read on hub pages; then she joined."
Parentheses ( )
Use parentheses around a word or phrase (added in a sentence) that makes an idea more clear.
"I have read all (7 hub pages) that you have written."
Double Quotation Marks " "
Use quotation marks around a: direct quote, titles, and words that are slang.
Julie DeNeen stated, "Hub pages are the best."
Single Quotation Marks ' '
Use single quotation marks for quotation marks within a direct quote.
"Have you read the hub page, 'The Meaning of Colors. Be inspired by Color Paint Chips. Make Art,' by Carly Sullens?" I asked Julie.
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Be Active Not Passive

Passive voice sentences add more words that make the reader work harder to understand the intended meaning. A sentence in active voice flows more smoothly and is easier to understand. In an active sentence, the subject is doing the action. Example sentence, "Carly writes hubs." Carly is the subject, and she is doing the action: she writes hubs, the object of the sentence.

In passive voice, the target of the action gets promoted to the subject position. Instead of saying, "Carly writes hubs," you would say, "Hubs are written by Carly." The subject of the sentence becomes hubs, but hubs are not doing anything. Rather, the hubs are the recipient of Carly’s words. The focus of the sentence has changed from hubs to Carly.

Underline: doer of the action (subject)

Italicized: action (verb)

Bold: receiver of the action (object)


Passive Voice= object + verb + subject (Hubs are written by writers.)

Active Voice= subject + verb + object (Writers write hubs.)


Passive Voice:

On hub pages, experienced and expert hubs are written from authors.

Active Voice:

On hub pages, authors write from their own experiences and expertise.


To change a sentence from passive voice to active voice rearrange the wording. Put the doer of the action first in the sentence followed by the action and then the receiver of the action.

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Read in Reverse

Start at the end of your writing piece. Read backwards, beginning with the last sentence of the last paragraph (of course read the sentence from first word to punctuation). This exercise is not for comprehension. This exercise is to make sure each sentence is coherent on its own. When you proofread this way you bypass your brain's tendency to fill in what is expected, but may not be there.

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Homonyms Help

 
 
 
 
to, too, two
to ~ towrds or go, "It is time for me to go."
too ~ also or excess "I spend too much time on hub pages today."
Two ~ Number, "In two hours this hub page will be done."
there, their, they're
there ~ used to describe a place or location. "My daughter wants to play at there house."
their ~ reffering to a possession "Their father will pick the kids up at 5:00 PM."
they're ~ short for they are. "They're going to read more hub pages after this one."
accept, except
accept ~ take in, "I accept this nomination."
except ~ other than, "I want all the cookies except the healthy ones."
 
than, then
than ~ used to compare two or more things "I rather read than watch fish swim."
then ~ time, balance, consequences "I went to work and then exercised before going to dinner."
 
affect, effect
affect ~ influence or change
effect ~ the result of
 
are, our, hour
are ~ verb, "Where are you going?"
our ~ shows possession "Our house is in the middle of our street."
hour ~ time, "The hour of the day when the kids go to be is 8:00 pm."
threw, through
threw ~ verb, "I threw the ball at the window."
through ~ preposition, "The ball went through the window."
 
lose, loose
lose ~ verb, to fail to win, "I will lose. You win."
loose ~ adjective, the opposite of tight, "I have a loose tooth."
 
your, you're
your ~ shows posession, "Can I have some of your books to read?"
you're ~ contraction for you are, "After all that work I bet your're tired."
 
whole, hole
whole ~ means complete, "I can see the whole story."
hole ~ adjective, "I have a hole in my sock."
 
farther, further
farther ~ physical distance, "I will go one step farther and reach the goal."
further ~ abstract quanity, "If you write any further about homonyms I will not read on."
 
its, it's
its ~ show posession, "The dog ate all of its food last night."
it's ~ contraction for it is "It's time to go inside."
 
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Subject Verb Agreement

Subject and Verb Agreeing

Establish a primary tense for the main article, and use occasional shifts to other tenses to indicate changes in time frame. Every sentence needs to have constancy with the time frame.

To begin: Choose one of the following for the majority of your essay.


Use past tense
to write about events in the past.

(Historical, biographical information or developments in the author’s ideas over time)


Use present tense to describe action.

(narration of a movie, literary work)


Future action to describe future actions

(story telling)


Present vs. Past

Do not shift from one tense to another if the time frame for each action or state is the same.

Examples:

Correct: The hub writer explains the information to readers that ask questions in the comments.

Incorrect: The hub writer explains the information to readers that asked questions in the comments.

Explains is present tense, referring to a current state; asked is past, but should be present (ask) because the readers are currently continuing to ask questions in the comments.


Simple Present

(In simple present you will write in present or action, general truths, non-action, habitual action, or future time.)

Present or action: I write hub pages.

General Truths: There are many hub pages to read.

Non-action: I like hub pages.

Habitual action: I write my hub pages on Mondays and Fridays.

Future time: The next hub I will write will be a 7:00 p.m on Friday.



Present Progressive

(In present progressive you will write about an activity in progress, or verbs of perception.)

Activity in Progress: I am writing this hub page now.

Verb in Perception: I will be feeling glad when this hub is finished.



Simple Past

(In simple past you will write about a completed action or completed condition)

Completed Action: I wrote that hub page yesterday.

Completed condition: Julie was reading your hub page last week.



Past Progressive

(In past progressive you will write about a past action that took place over a period of time, or a past action interrupted by another.)

Past action that took place over a period of time: She was writing her hub page for ten hours.

Past action interrupted by another: I was writing this hub page when Julie called me.



Future

(In future tense you will write about an activity or event that will or won't exist or happen in the future, or a future in relation to circumstances in the past.

An activity or event that will or won't exist or happen in the future: I will read you hub page in the late morning tomorrow. I won't read it in the early morning.

A future in relation to circumstances in the past: I'm reading. I'm going to look at more hub pages.



Present Perfect

(In present perfect you will write with verbs of state that begin in the past and lead up to and include the present, express habitual or continued action, or events occurring at an indefinited or unspecified time in the past - with ever, never, and before.

Verbs of state that begin in the past and lead up to and include the present: Julie has written hub pages for many months.

Express habitual or continued action: Julie has been a writer all her life.

Events occurring at an indefinited or unspecified time in the past - with ever, never, and before: Have you ever written a hub page?



Present Perfect Progressive

(In present perfect progressive you will write to express duration of an action that began in the past, has continued into the present, and may continue into the future.

Julie has been writing for five hours, and she has not finished her hub page yet.



Past Perfect

(In past perfect you will write to describe a past event or condition completed before another event in the past, or in a reported speech.)

When I logged onto hub pages, she had already wrote her article.

Julie said that she had gone to hub pages to retrieve information about sleep eating last night.


Future Perfect

(In future perfect you will write to express action that will be completed by or before a specified time in the future.)


By this time tomorrow I will have finished this hub page

She won't have finished her hub page until 6:00 p.m.



PAST

Regular verbs have an -ed ending added to the root verb for both the simple past and past participle. Irregular verbs do not follow this pattern, and instead take on an alternative pattern.

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Irregular Verbs

Present
Past
Past Participle
be
was, were
been
become
became
become
begin
began
begun
blow
blew
blown
break
broke
broken
bring
brought
brought
build
built
built
burst
burst
burst
catch
caught
caugth
choose
chose
chosen
come
came
come
cut
cut
cut
deal
dealt
dealt
do
did
done
drink
drank
drunk
drive
drove
driven
eat
ate
eaten
fall
fell
fallen
feed
fed
fed
feel
felt
felt
fight
fought
fought
find
found
found
fly
flew
flown
forbid
forbade
forbidden
forget
forgot
frogotten
forgive
forgave
forgiven
freeze
froze
frozen
get
got
gotten
give
gave
given
go
went
gone
grow
grew
grown
have
had
had
hear
heard
heard
hide
hide
hidden
hold
held
held
hurt
hurt
hurt
keep
kept
kept
know
knew
known
lay
laid
laid
lead
led
led
leave
left
left
let
let
let
lie
lay
lain
lose
lost
lost
make
made
made
meet
met
met
pay
paid
paid
quit
quit
quit
read
read
read
ride
rode
ridden
run
ran
run
say
said
said
see
saw
seen
seek
sought
sought
sell
sold
sold
send
sent
sent
shake
shook
shaken
shine
shone
shone
sing
sang
sung
sit
sat
sat
sleep
slept
slept
speak
spoke
spoken
spend
spent
spent
spring
sprang
sprung
stand
stood
stood
steal
stole
stolen
swim
swam
swum
swing
swung
swung
take
took
taken
teach
taught
taught
tear
tore
torn
tell
told
told
think
thought
thought
throw
threw
thrown
understand
understood
understood
wake
woke
woken
wear
wore
worn
win
won
won
write
wrote
written

Plural vs. Singular

Do not be misled by a phrase that come between the subject and the verb. The verb agrees with the subject, not with a noun or pronoun in the phrase.

CORRECT: The hub author, as well as her readers, is enlighten. (singular = singular)

INCORRECT: The hub author, as well as her readers, are enlighten.


CORRECT: The people who read this hub page are many. (plural = plural)

INCORRECT: The people who read this hub page is many.

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Common Errors Spell Check Does Not Catch


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Correct: Who writes on hub pages? (use who, when you can replace it with he or she) i.e. She writes on hub pages.

Incorrect: Whom writes on hub pages?


Correct: I read a hub page by Julie, whom I followed a long time ago. (use whom, when you can replace it with him or her) i.e. I read her hub page.

Incorrect: I read a hub page by Julie, who I followed a long time ago.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Correct: an apple (use an before a word that begins with a vowel, a, e, i, o, u, instead of a)

Incorrect: and apple


Correct: and we went to the store

Incorrect: an we went to the store


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Correct: could have, would have, should have

Incorrect: could of, would of, should of


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Correct: supposed to

Incorrect: supposed to


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Correct: a lot

Incorrect: a lot


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Correct: the reason being, the reason that

Incorrect: reason because, the reason being is


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Now Polish the Paper

Look for Consistency:

  • Numbers: Write out the word for numbers ranging one and ten. Use digits when using a number higher than 10. Stay consistent throughout your whole paper when using numbers.
  • Subject verb tense agreement in every sentence.
  • Spacing and formatting consistent throughout the whole essay, including indentation, spaces between paragraphs, and punctuation.


Trim off the Access:

  • Shorten ongoing sentences
  • Take out wordy phrases
  • Use word finder and see if you are overusing a word. Use a thesaurus and find other words.
  • Use word finder and take out the words, just, that, really, quite and perhaps


Clean Up:

  • Look for contractions and take them out and write out the whole word
  • Look for redundant sentences or points you make over and over again. Say it clearly and concisely the first time.


Second Review

  • Have someone else review your work


© Copyright Carly Sullens 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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    • CarlySullens profile image
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      CarlySullens 14 months ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Shouldn't there be two spaces after the punctuation at the end of a sentence? No. The current rule is 1 space after punctuation. This changed when computers became the standard instead of typewriters.

    • profile image

      Are you sure 14 months ago

      Shouldn't there be two spaces after the punctuation at the end of a sentence? Also, shouldn't you use the semicolon rather than the comma, in a list, after the colon?

    • emge profile image

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Good suggestions. Thanks fir the hub. Voted up

    • profile image

      Lee Cloak 2 years ago

      A truly outstanding piece of work, an amazing info packed article, a must read for any writer, thanks foe sharing your knowledge, voted up, Lee

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Beautiful, informative and amazing. What a great work! It is very much helpful to all writers. I hope you write more such stuff in future also. You have taken some great efforts to publish it. But the work is worth. It impresses everyone. Thank you for sharing.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Moonlake, That is funny, "I am trying to make sure my comment is correct." Because I am someone who does not easily catch grammar and spelling errors. So if it was not correct, I probably would not notice any way. LOL

    • CarlySullens profile image
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      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thomas, You have a grammar help cork-board? That is a great idea, or someone can make a file on their computer.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Hubdooblr, I like that name! Thank you for the utmost comment.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      jpcmc,

      You are so welcome. This is the first time I have ever wrote something so dry, I am glad it is supporting other's too.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Barbergirl, THAT is an interesting way to get you not to use THAT. What a trauma triggering word, THAT must be for you. Did THAT exercise help you trim of the THAT. Now I am going to be looking for THAT in your writing. LOL.

      Thanks for stopping by and letting me know that other's struggle with THAT too.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      Great hub so much good information. I'm trying to make sure my comment is correct. I saw an old comment I had wrote and was shocked at how bad it was. Voted up.

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Carly,

      Oh my this is very helpful! I was going to write "...this is VERY helpful!" but I have since learned (#1 above) that I shouldn't do that. This is getting printed out and I'm putting it on my my grammar help cork-board (yes, I have one of those).

      Great job here and I am very glad to meet you!

      Thomas

    • profile image

      Hubdooblr 5 years ago

      This should be required reading before you're allowed to publish your first Hub. Outstanding work!

      Voted up, liked, shared, pinned, immortalized in song... you get the idea.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      This is a great resource for writers. Thanks for this hub!

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Everybody should bookmark this hub. While I was reading it I noticed you mentioned "that" word... when I was in my College English class, my teacher actually banished me from using it because of how often I used it. If I felt I couldn't get away with out the word, I actually needed to write a note in the side of the paper and explain why it was proper to use it. Such a pain in the behind. Since then, I try my hardest to just rewrite the sentence without the word in it at all. It is almost like I have a fear of "that!" In addition, you don't mention "...." but I have a tendency to use those wonderful little periods all the time... for me... it is like a breath of fresh air! ha ha - yeah - probably not good writing but I sure love my ellipses! :)

      As I said before - great hub and great information! I will be back for this to reference often!

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      That is great debbiepinkstong.... That is the one thing I gain to most out of doing this. Make the sentences shorter and clearer.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      shiningirisheyes, although I wrote this.... I need your purchased program.... I am just not naturally equipped to be an editor...

      Eye thinc youred program iz working well. Kould u past on de seret?

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Carly, I just went back and edited my last Hub, and I was amazed at how many words I could take out and make the reading more fluid.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Carly - I must admit to taking the easy way out. I purchased a program that does this for me.

      Eye thinc itss werking well, "doent" u?

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Now that is a compliment rwelton! Thank you.

    • rwelton profile image

      rwelton 5 years ago from Sacramento CA

      Great Hub...now I have to edit all my hubs..............should be required reading when someone signs up for Hubpages.

      rlw

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you Teacher. Glad it could help. (I used to have an imaginary friend when I was 4 to 6. He was 3 inches high and would sit on my right shoulder and whisper life's philosophy to my 4 year old ear. I called him, 'Teacher'.)

      I wish Teacher was still around and can correct my grammatical errors. When I see you on Hub pages I think of my old imaginary friend. (That is a compliment, lol).

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This is an excellent hub topic and one that will help so many. I feel like I have had a brief course in English and its proper usage! I am keeping this handy as I write. Voted way up!

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you alphones george. I am proud. I think it is funny you said this is a good and useful for beginners. Because to me, this seems complex. LOL

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you Debbiepinkston. I find the common sense of writing seems to be disappearing as our predecessors or your students write in slang and in text short cuts. With that said, I do not find grammar common sense. For some reason it is just not how my brain works. My creative right side brain is highly active, some of these little grammatical errors I am at fault with all the time.

      Creating a guide, helped me re-educate myself on the rules of grammar. However, if you quizzed me on all I wrote above tomorrow I would probably get a 'c.' I will need to come back to my own hub every time I write to polish my own writing. I love to write, and I am so glad I do not let the fear of grammar and spelling keep my words inside anymore.

    • alphonse george profile image

      alphonse george 5 years ago from Kerala,India

      This hub is very useful for beginners you have done a very good job.You should be proud of yourself.Voted up:)

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Awesome! It would seem to me that much of this is common sense that most anyone would know, but I realized when I started teaching in the University that many people don't know these basic rules of writing! Thank you and I look forward to learning more from you in future Hubs.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      Carly

      You did a great job and a great service.

      I break grammatical laws all the time so I come across things the hard way. Your hub has good use as a reference guide for all.

      Thanks for sharing it.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thanks Go For The Juggler. Yes, actually, when I read in reverse I catch a lot more errors.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image

      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      Read in reverse? This is the first I've heard of it, and it's a fantastic idea. I will start doing this immediately!

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thanks ib radmasters! As you can see, this is not how my mind works. Thanks for catching these, I will change them. I am making this guide for myself so I do not bother my friend Julie all the time to catch all my mistakes. As I was making it I thought other's could benefit from the work.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      This hub is a good compendium of grammar and I only have one question.

      It is your use of the word "loose", when you were mentioning removing the word "that". I would have thought the word should have been "lose".

      This question also applies to the table where you give examples for the difference between "loose" and "lose".

      Thanks.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you comfortB. It was funny, when Julie was proof reading this hub, she was finding all the mistakes that I was telling others to find. We all need help in support in certain areas of our writing. My gift is not editing, but I know a lot more from writing this hub.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Great hub. Very useful proof-reading points mentioned. Voted Up and Useful.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you billybuc. I did it because, I need it. I looked for something that would give me the nuts and bolts of editing without taking English 101 again. I could not find it, so I just created it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow! You did a great job of laying this all out. Wonderful reference material!

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you Julie DeNeen for editing my edit hub. You are the best!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      Hey, I'm mentioned here!!! LOL I am proofreading your proof! Ha!